How Mindfulness Can Improve Your Life – 5 Easy Mindful Eating Tips to Try

There’s a seemingly endless stream of information about the power of the mind – the conscious, the subconscious, the unconscious minds, automatic or habitual thinking. But what does it all mean and how can it help you on your weight loss journey? Let’s take a look at how the practice of mindfulness can improve your life by increasing your awareness of yourself, and how you respond to your inner and outer lives, your thoughts, emotions and events. And we’ll share a few easy mindful eating tips to help you get started too. First up…

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness has its origins in ancient meditative practices such as Buddhism. It was believed individuals should establish mindfulness in their day-to-day lives, maintaining a calm awareness of their bodily functions, feelings, thoughts, perceptions, and consciousness itself.

Nowadays, in Western society, mindfulness is used in psychology to help relieve people from mental and physical conditions, including depression, anxiety disorders, stress, and addiction. It’s not a religion or a cult, has no theological assumptions, and can be practised by anyone. Mindfulness has gained a more mainstream popularity in recent years, as people increasingly look for ways to find inner calm, clarity, and a sense of purpose in an ever hectic and busy world.

How Can Mindfulness Help You?

Practising mindfulness enables us to make wise choices. When our minds are caught up in stressful thought patterns, it’s hard to see through the mental clutter. We get confused and become reactive, not reflective. Mindfulness is the ability to live in the present moment with, for instance, less distraction from unhelpful habits.

It’s easy to think when you’re awake that you’re conscious all the time, fully aware of what’s going on around you and in you. But take a moment to focus on your left foot. What do you sense – the temperature, the floor, your shoes? Were you aware of these things before you turned your attention to your foot?

Another example is learning to drive, when you need to give all your attention to the process. Then, as you become a skilled driver, it’s possible to drive down a familiar road and be so lost in thought that you miss your usual turning.

Or, have you ever been at home on the sofa, nibbled on a couple of biscuits from a packet, and then been surprised to find the packet empty? Did you know, we humans are very skilled at blocking out awareness of repetitive events, such as habits, to prevent information overload? Actually, we function through automatic or habitual thinking a lot of the time, and we’re often not present in the moment.

And automatic thinking contributes to mindless eating. You ate the biscuits, but you missed the experience as you weren’t aware of what you were doing. It’s a great shame to consume calories and not have the pleasure of doing so, particularly as this can lead to significant weight gain. But it’s an even greater shame to not be present when so much of your life is going on.

Getting Started with Mindfulness – 5 Easy Mindful Eating Tips to Try

To be effective, mindfulness is an activity that needs to be practised regularly and with intention. Mindful eating is about using mindfulness to reach a state of full attention to your experiences, cravings, and triggers around food. It can help you distinguish between true hunger and your emotional triggers for eating.

If you eat too fast, or in response to a stressful situation, for example, your brain may not realise you’re full or not physically hungry. By eating mindfully, you slow down and refocus, making eating an intentional act instead of an automatic one.

Eating mindfully also helps you recognise your triggers, allowing you time to create a space between them and your automatic response. This puts you back in control of choosing how to react.

With this in mind, here are five simple tips to try in relation to your eating habits.

  1. Listen to your body. Is your tummy growling? Or are you sad, bored, angry, or stressed?
  2. Eliminate any distractions – turn off the TV, put away your phone, don’t multitask.
  3. Eat more slowly — don’t rush your meal.
  4. Pay attention to how your food looks, smells, tastes, feels, and even sounds? How does your food make you feel?
  5. Start by choosing one meal time during the day to practise this complete awareness, and then build up to all your meals.

How LighterLife Can Help You

In private online group meetings with your personal Mentor you’ll have the opportunity to explore more of your habitual thinking that can sometimes shout so loudly, “Eat me, eat me!” as another diet bites the dust.

Each week you’ll look at different techniques and tips to help you build your mental toolbox so you change the way you think about food, and any negative feelings that may be associated with eating are replaced with awareness, improved self-control, and positive emotions. We’ll help you take back control of your weight and your health once and for all.

For actress and presenter Denise Welch, it was the CBT work and mindfulness that made the difference to her weight loss success:

“The LighterLife group work changed everything for me. Everything. I learned to pause before eating and ask myself if I was really hungry or whether I was tired, stressed, in need of comfort. In other words, I got in touch with my reasons for eating.

“There were times when I considered lapsing. But CBT teaches you to recognise the crooked thinking behind such moments.”

As John Lennon wrote, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Would you like to make life happen for you, so you can enjoy it to the full?

If you’re ready to get started, and find your Mentor to help you explore more about fitting in mindfulness in your life contact us today – 044 934 4868 or email info@lighterlife.ie